Far East Express - Full Steam Ahead
When we pulled into the last station we were in August, sat in 10th place in the league and in the 3rd round of the Indonesian Cup. This is where we will start in one of the craziest season conclusions I have been involved in.
Indonesian Cup Third Round 1st Leg - Bali United (H) 4-2
We put ourselves in control of the tie with a brilliant home performance. Goals from Kernia, Ketchik and Rambe sealed a strong 4-2 victory.
Indonesian Cup Third Round 2nd Leg - Bali United (A) 3-5 (7-7 on Agg)
WELL THEN. We went away with the cushion of a 2 goal lead however a first 30 minute blitz from Bali saw that lead decimated and we found ourselves 2 goals behind.
Rambe pulled one back just before half time and in the 63rd minute we were level again after a smart Kurnia finish. 6-6 on agg and level on away goals, extra time was calling.
The lads were out on their feet so I gave a chance to young attacking midfielder Meraudje and it took him a minute to pay me back as he put us 7-6 up on agg and more importantly an away goal ahead meaning Bali needed 2 goal to qualify.
We conceded one more to make it 5-3 on the night, 7-7 on agg with the away goals carrying us through.
Match 17 - Persela (A) 1-3
Without much surprise the lads were out on their feet following the midweek cup shenanigans. Rambe had dragged us level but we couldn't hold on and suffered another away day defeat in the league.
Match 18 - Borneo FC (H) 1-0
With half the team full rested in the previous game and the other half relieved from training we put a much better performance and a first half Ramadhan goal was enough for 3 points.
Match 19 - Persipura (H) 0-2
Another short turn around of games caught us out as the strength in depth is questioned again. We didn't have any answers.
Indonesian Cup 4th Round 1st Leg - Medan Jaya (A) 3-0
After the epic encounter in the last round we were handed a very favourable draw against non-league opponents. A goal from Kurnia and a Rambe double put us in control.
Match 20 - Bali United (A) 1-0
Our third time playing Bali this month and they were after revenge. After our barnstorming game in the cup this was a relative snooze fest as a Kurnia goal in the first half was enough to seal the victory.
With three cup games added it was a hectic schedule and the excitement of the cup takes away from the yet again indifferent performances in the league.
Indonesian Cup Fourth Round 2nd Leg - Medan Jaya 2-0 (5-0 agg)
After the domination in the first leg we rotated some key roles and came away comfortable winners. Kurnia and Yulianto were on the scoresheet.
Straight into the hat for the Quarter Final.
Match 21 - Persija (H) 0-3
All of our changes didn't pay off as we succumbed to another defeat in the league. We didn't play badly but were nowhere near Persija's level.
Indonesian Cup Quarter Final 1st Leg - Perserang (A) - 2-1
Back to the Cup and we were in the Quarter finals for the first time in the journey. Perserang are another lower league team but we were made to work hard for the victory.
We actually went 1-0 down in the second half and only two late goals from Kurnia and Ulhaq secured a narrow advantage going into the second leg.
Match 22 - PSPS (H) 0-0
If they needed to give an example next to the definition of "Bore Draw" this game would be it. Not a shot on target and no action....
Indonesian Cup Quarter Final 2nd leg - Perserang (H) 5-2 (7-3 agg)
If the first leg was a nervy affair the tie was never in doubt as braces from Rambe and Ulhaq and one from Yulianto sealed safe passage into the Semi-Finals of the Cup.
This is huge for a club of our size and could have massive ramifications for the future of this save.
Match 23 - Arema (A) 1-4
With all of the hype around the cup run its important to know that we had been dragged back into the relegation battle due to our inconsistent form.
We actually started this game perfectly with a goal in the 1st minute through Rambe. Sadly that was as good as it got and 4 second half goals sealed Arema all 3 points.
Match 24 - Badak Lampung (H) 0-1
A very cagy affair against a team chasing the title. We went 1-0 in the second half and only the offside flag after Riyanto had latched onto a through ball denied us a point.
I am starting to get concerned about our league form, but I genuinely think its down to the extra games in the cup. This must be the only competition in the world where all the ties are over two legs from the third round.
This is adding huge pressure to a squad that probably doesn't have enough depth to play Wednesday, Sunday, Wednesday, Sunday week in week out.
Match 25 - Barito Putra (A) 1-1
A strong start saw us take the lead early through Yulianto. We were pegged back just before half time and it stayed 1-1 in the second half. We rested a lot of players in preparation for the cup game and I was delighted with the point.
Indonesian Cup Semi Final 1st Leg - Borneo FC (H) 1-2
So this is it, the Semi Final first leg. We had the home advantage and went ahead early through Kurnia as he tapped in at the back post following a lovely 1-2 from Dico.
We defended fantastically but were caught out in the 75th minute as they finally broke through. We then had a late Kurnia goal disallowed for offside before the sucker punch of a winning Borneo goal in the 90th minute.
Match 26 - Persiba (H) 1-1
After the heartbreak of a late defeat we again conceded late on to throw away a valuable 3 points. Ramadhan had put us 1-0 up in the first half but the fitness levels and the changes made again cost us.
Indonesian Cup Semi Final 1st Leg - Borneo FC (A) 4-2 (5-4 agg)
WHAT IS THIS TEAM - We throw away points in the league like confetti at a wedding but in the cup we just seem to be on a different level.
After being 2-1 down from the first leg we knew we had it all to do and we made our job even harder after going 1-0 down in the 16th minute. 3-1 down on aggregate.
By half time we had turned the leg on its head with two quick fire Rambe goals both fantastic finishes into the bottom left corner. 3-3 on aggregate and level on away goals.
We started the second half just like we finished the first . Kurnia converted a stunning Dico cross and Rambe completed his hatrick after breaking the offside trap following another perfect ball from Dico. 4-1 on the day and 5-2 on aggregate and we had more than one foot in the final.
There were nervy moments as we were pegged back to 4-2 but with the cushion of the away goals we needed to concede two more which we just didn't look like doing.
INDONESIAN CUP FINALISTS
Match 27 - Persiraja (A) 1-2
Some sore heads and tired legs after another stunning performance in the cup almost pre determined the result of this one. Dico equalised just after half time but once again we couldn't hold on.
Match 28 - Tira-Persikabo (H) 3-1
I managed to get some rest into some very tired players after the last match. It did the trick and a brace from Riyanto and one from Lestaluhu secured our first league win since September.
Match 29 - Mitra Kukar (H) 3-0
A lot like Jakarta buses, you wait for ages for one and then two show up at once (I am sure this is a saying by the way)
A complete performance in the first half saw us walk away with all 3 points. A Kurnia double and a Lestaluhu goal secured the win.
Side note, this is the first time this season we have won back to back league games and it happened when having had 7 days between games which proves my lack of depth concerns.
Obviously a fantastic month due to the Semi final will but also 8 points added to the league total to which has eased any relegation concerns.
I am going to leave the final to the last games of the season for suspense...... so lets finish the league.
Match 30 - Bhayangkara FC (A) 1-1
Kurnia continued his very good form with a penalty in the second half.
On the face of it this seem like another bore draw however this is possibly the most important point of the season , and here's why....
This was the bare minimum I wanted for my turn of the save and to achieve it with time to spare is pleasing.
The rest of the league results were dead rubbers so I rested players, i wont go into any detail on the games as we are all waiting for one thing....
Match 31 - PSS (H) - 1-1
Match 32 - Madura United (A) 0-1
Match 33 - Borneo FC (A) 1-1
Match 34 - Persebaya (H) 2-6
Final league table
15th is 5 places lower than last season and but with 38 points we were only 3 points off of the 41 last season. Considering the added games for the cup run i think this is a fantastic league campaign.
RIGHT, THIS IS IT!
Indonesian Cup Final 1st Leg - Persik (A)
Of course the final was to be played over 2 legs, why not. Persik are a League 2 team but have had a fantastic season challenging well in the league.
Obviously this was a very cagey affair with both teams being very reserved. The first half we cancelled each other out in true form.
We started the second half the brighter and made the dominance count as Ulhaq burst clear of the defence and coolly finished past the keeper. 1-0 up and an away goal!
We defended deeper and deeper to attempt to take this lead back with us but sadly a silly free kick concede allowed a dangerous ball to be floated across and there was an easy tap in at the back stick, 1-1.
There was one more hairy moment as Persik thought they had turned it around with a late goal in the 85th minute but we were saved by the linesman's flag. All square after the 1st leg.
Indonesian Cup Final 2nd Leg - Persik (H)
The 2nd leg was the polar opposite from the first, an open free flowing football that played right into our hands. The front three of Kurnia, Rambe and Dico relished the space and time on the ball.
Dico opened the scoring with a lovely finish from the edge of the box. Advantage Tiga Naga. Poor defending allowed Persik with a glorious chance which they converted with ease. 1-1 and that eliminates any away goal advantage we could have had.
We restored our advanted after a free kick was nodded down and Kurnia smashed home at the back post. 2-1 on the day 3-2 on agg.
Dico grabbed his 2nd of the game after a classy 1-2 with Kurnia got him free of his marker to slot under the keeper and give us some breathing space. Before half time we were also handed a numerical advantage as a silly second yellow saw Persik go down to 10 men. 3-1 on the day and 4-2 on agg.
The nerves really set in through the second half with thoughts of all the games we have thrown leads away in throughout the season. But to a 10 man lower league team in a cup final could be the worst one yet.
We were punished for sitting so deep and the 10 men dragged it back to 3-2 on the day 4-3 on agg.
My heart was in my mouth in the 88th minute as Persik had thought they had got us to extra 3-3 on the day and 4-4 on agg with the away goal advantage....... BUT IT WAS OFFSIDE. Elation at the final whistle and real life tears in the eyes!
TIGA NAGA - INDONESIAN CUP CHAMPIONS 2025
I was stunned. STUNNED. Predicted bottom of the league, not spent a penny and this little club has qualified for the Asian Champions League after winning the Cup.
Its been a long episode but I was so hooked by the cup run I just couldn't stop playing. We have won a trophy which allows us to move on from Tiga Naga if we do so wish.
This is supposed to be my last episode and i've missed out so much information and things that have happened because of the scale of what we have achieved.
I will look at putting together a summary of the season outside of my turn just to hail some of the heroes of this story as its been the craziest season i ahve ever managed, once again
Tiga Naga - INDONESIAN CUP CHAMPIONS!!!
Please check out our main save, The Wycombe Wanderers Journey from its inception below.
We also have an fascinating International save going as we attempt to take Jamaica to Gold Cup and World Cup glory after acquiring some new recruits who have been ignored repeatedly by England